You’re not free if you’re not free to leave

Consider the following sequence of events.

1. 12-20-1860. South Carolina secedes from the Union.

2. 02-28-1861. U.S. House passes proposed 13th Amendment, 133-65.

3. 03-02-1861. U.S. Senate passes proposed 13th Amendment, 39-5.

4. 03-04-1861. Abraham Lincoln inaugurated as U.S. President.

5. 07-11-1861. Ten remaining Southern senators expelled from the Senate, 32-10.

Now, keep in mind that there were 34 states at that time, thus 68 senators. The twenty-two senators from the Southern states mostly resigned or never showed up, and as for their seats: “During a brief special session in March 1861, weeks before the start of hostilities, the Senate decided to consider these seats as vacant to avoid officially recognizing that it was possible for a state to leave the Union.”

This is significant as it proves that the Southern senators were not present to vote on the proposed 13th Amendment that passed in February and March. President Lincoln even referred to this Amendment in his inaugural address, saying:

I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution—which amendment, however, I have not seen—has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.

And what was this amendment? It was as follows:

No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.

Three Northern states ratified this amendment, Ohio, Maryland and Illinois. To make matters even more clear, Lincoln stated:

Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that— I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.

He also makes it clear that he will recognize no right of secession or brook any possibility of breaking the Union, which he states is perpetual and unbreakable as well as being pre-Constitutional:

I hold that in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination. Continue to execute all the express provisions of our National Constitution, and the Union will endure forever, it being impossible to destroy it except by some action not provided for in the instrument itself…. It follows from these views that no State upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence within any State or States against the authority of the United States are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances.

So, the facts are that the Northern House and Senate approved a Constitutional amendment permitting slavery and President Lincoln publicly announced his approval of this amendment in his inaugural address. To conclude that they then elected to fight a war with the primary purpose of ending slavery only three months later is not just incorrect, but downright absurd. Slavery was merely the primary flash point, it could have as easily been homogamy, abortion or any other issue on which people seriously disagree. This sequence of events demonstrates very clearly that the Civil War was about nothing but maintaining central state power, or, in Lincoln’s famous words, “preserving the Union”. Indeed, had the Southern states been willing to accept their continued economic abuse by the North, we might well still have slavery in the United States today. So died the American Revolution and with it the revolutionary concept of free and mutual association.

Ironic, is it not, that it should be argued that a people have no right to self-determination on the basis of living under a government that permits the ownership of human beings as private property. It seems to me that this argument involves little more than the simple exchange of private slavery for public slavery.